Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (KMTA) coordinated the second annual Mineshaft Grinder race after taking a COVID year off as did many races in 2020. The event was a great success with 40 competitors, ranging in age from 16-64, racing up Palmer Creek Road from the Hope School. There were 4 events including the Gold Grinder Marathon, Gold Grinder 12.5 mile Bike Race, Silver Grinder Half Marathon, and the Quartz Grinder 8.5 mile Run. Each start was staggered over the morning starting at 8am with the last racer coming in around 12:45pm.
On Saturday, August 14, the weather decided to come in opposite of the forecast which called for partly cloudy skies in the morning and scattered showers after 1 pm. Instead, racers and volunteers managed to stay in high spirits as the chilly morning saw scattered showers. By the time all 40 participants were done and at the Creekbend Company for a bar-b-que the sun had come out to warm their tired bodies.
The Mineshaft Grinder is a fundraiser for community organizations in Hope, one of ten KMTA communities. This year proceeds were split between the Hope PTA and Hope EMS. KMTA partnered with local sponsors including Flow AK, Turnagain Kayak and Coffeehouse, Girdwood Brewing Company, Alyeska Resort, Speedway Cycles, Seaview Cafe, and the Creekbend Company.
This event is also in recognition of the mining history of Palmer Creek Road and the Hope-Sunrise region in general. Sunrise was the largest town in Alaska at the peak of the gold rush in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Palmer Creek Road, as well as other areas of the region, still boast active mines as well as trails scattered with mining equipment and tire tracks that can still be seen scarring the tundra.
To commemorate the work that these extraordinary people did to find their treasure participants were invited to do a bucket carry to earn some raffle tickets. The buckets, each weighing at least 40lbs, were carried up and down the length of a basketball court. This feat of strength was enjoyed by many as they trudged along the court in the rain.
Once everyone was done running or returned from biking we headed to the Creekbend Company for a bar-b-que and to hold the raffle. Prizes were provided by our sponsors with the grand prize being two tickets to raft the epic Six Mile Creek with Flow AK! Everyone seemed to be stoked and soaking up all they had accomplished.
KMTA works to promote, protect, and preserve the natural and historic landscape of the region ranging from Hope to Seward, Cooper Landing to Girdwood. Sign up for our newsletter to hear about future events.